Find the perfect bike
Let’s start with the basics—bike types
Features to consider
For young riders, a mid-rise handlebar (level with their belly button) is ideal. For experienced riders, ideal rise depends on riding style—more aggressive riders may enjoy a lower rise, & more casual riders may prefer a higher rise.
When standing over the top tube of the bike (in front of the seat), there should be an inch or two of clearance between the rider & the frame. This gap helps prevent injury in case the child slips forward while riding.
Lighter bike frames are almost always easier for young riders to manage. As a general rule, you should select the lightest bike you can find within your price range. Balance bikes: The frame should weigh no more than 30% of the rider’s body weight. Pedal bikes: The frame should weigh no more than 50% of the rider’s body weight.
Seat height is the most accurate indicator of how a bike will fit your child, as bikes with the same size tire can fit a child very differently. Balance bikes: To properly ride a balance bike, the rider’s feet must be able to make contact with the ground & push off while remaining seated. Pedal bikes: Only the rider’s toes should touch the ground when seated.
Any child’s bike is only as good as their ability to stop it. Regardless of the braking mechanism, before you place a child on a bike, it is essential that they know how to brake. Balance bikes: While the main source of stopping will always be the rider’s feet, hand brakes can help prevent injury, reduce shoe wear & better prepare a child to ride a pedal bike. Pedal bikes: Pedal bikes are usually equipped with either coaster brakes or hand brakes. Coaster brakes (also called “backpedal brakes”) let the rider slow down by reversing the pedal direction, which can be more intuitive for young riders.
Tire size (wheel diameter in inches) is the most common form of classification for youth bicycles. Balance bikes: While balance bikes are often considered to be “one‑size‑fits-all,” the size needs of an 18-month-old rider are very different than those of a 5-year-old rider. Pedal bikes: A child’s inseam is the most reliable way to determine correct tire size, but age & height can also be important indicators.